African swine fever will infect feral pigs as well as domesticated stock … it is important to prevent contact between wild and farmed pigs (Photo: DEPI)

September 24, 2019

Biosecurity Queensland is warning pig owners to remain vigilant for African swine fever as the serious disease continues to spread across Eastern Europe, Russia and Asia.

Australia is free from African swine fever so far, but Biosecurity Queensland has warned that diseases do not respect national borders.

People cannot be infected but African swine fever can have a very high mortality rate in infected pigs and no vaccine or treatment is available.

If it became established in Australia, African swine fever would be difficult to eradicate and would significantly impact pig health and production.

The organisation issued a Biosecurity Alert about African swine fever on Tuesday.

* * *

Pigs can become infected by:

  • Eating contaminated pork products and feed
  • Close contact with infected pigs
  • Contact with contaminated equipment

The greatest risk of introduction is from people illegally bringing pork or pork products into Australia from overseas and the products being fed to pigs.

Australia does not import fresh pork and the Federal Government has strengthened requirements for importing pork products from countries with African swine fever.

The spread of African swine fever has also been linked to domestic and feral pigs eating food intended for humans.

Never feed pigs food or food scraps (swill) containing animal matter such as meat, meat products and eggs. This includes food scraps that have been contaminated by animal matter.

Always dispose of food waste and scraps properly so pigs can’t access and eat them.

If you suspect swill feeding, report it to Biosecurity Queensland on 13-25-23.

Biosecurity Queensland says everyone has a role to play to protect against African swine fever.

For pig keepers:

  • Have a biosecurity plan in place, including options for carcass disposal and decontamination capabilities
  • Ensure all workers and visitors are aware of your biosecurity rules
  • Do not feed pigs swill; it is best to feed pigs commercial pig feed
  • Ensure items and equipment coming on to or going off of your farm are clean; clean and disinfect any equipment shared with other farms
  • Practise good hygiene; wear clean clothes and footwear on a property with pigs
  • Prevent visitors from having unnecessary contact with your pigs
  • Prevent contact between farmed and feral pigs
  • Notify Biosecurity Queensland immediately if you suspect African swine fever

For everyone:

  • Keep illegal imports of pork or pork products out of Australia
  • Declare all meat and meat products when returning to Australia from overseas

The signs of African swine fever in pigs can include:

  • Death (possibly before other signs are noticeable)
  • Blotching / reddening of the skin
  • High fever
  • Lack of co-ordination or stiff gait
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dysentery or diarrhoea
  • Vomiting

If you suspect African swine fever you must report it to Biosecurity Queensland immediately on 13-25-23 or contact the Emergency Disease Watch Hotline on 1800-675-888.

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